Thursday, October 07, 2004
Go get 'em: The Electronic Freedom Foundation continues to go after the FCC's broadcast flag. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the broadcast flag, it is a bit of code inserted in a digital broadcast which puts rules on how you can use it.
For example, you could be prohibited from videotaping a program or saving it on your TiVo box for later viewing. The way the FCC is instituting this regulation you could be prohibited from "Everybody Loves Raymond" on the third Friday of odd-numbered months.
The brief argues that the FCC has no authority to regulate digital TV sets and other digital devices unless specifically instructed to do so by Congress. While the FCC does have jurisdiction over TV transmissions, transmissions are not at issue here. The broadcast flag limits the way digital material can be used after the broadcast has already been received. "Bowing to a group of copyright holders led by the MPAA, the FCC promulgated a rule drafted by those corporate interests that will dictate design aspects of a vast array of consumer electronics - televisions, DVD recorders, TiVos, digital VCRs, iPods, and cell phones - for years to come," the brief reads.
The courts should strike this down, but there's no real guarantee. Even if the courts do reign in the FCC, there's always the possibility that Congress will pass a law giving them the authority. If the way Congress continues to extend the length of copyrights is any indication, they don't have much respect for fair use or the public domain.